DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Two of Cynthia Abcug’s adult children took the stand Wednesday, describing the concern they felt after their mother moved a man into her home for “protection” and talked of a “raid” to kidnap her youngest child from a foster family.
Both also said their youngest brother, who is now 10 years old, has appeared to thrive during the approximately three years he has lived with that family and has not experienced seizures or any of the other medical conditions Abcug had told others he suffered from.
Abcug’s 25-year-old son, who testified he has seen the boy in person and in video calls while he’s been in foster care, said he appears to be a “normal child.”
“I’ve seen him, if not playing outside, just coming in from playing outside – happy, running around,” Abcug’s older son testified.
He and Abcug’s 18-year-old daughter were among the last witnesses called before the prosecution rested its case Wednesday afternoon.
Abcug, 53, faces one count of child abuse-knowingly or recklessly causing injury and one count of attempted second-degree kidnapping.
Prosecutors have alleged that Abcug inflicted “medical” child abuse on her young son by claiming he had various medical conditions he did not – including a seizure disorder, a heart condition, and brain tumors. That led, according to prosecutors, to unnecessary and in some cases risky medical procedures and treatments, including a spinal tap and use of an anti-seizure medication with serious side effects.
They also have alleged that after a judge ordered the removal of the boy from Abcug’s home that she plotted a raid to kidnap him with the aid of followers of the conspiracy group known as QAnon.
Defense attorneys have countered that narrative by producing voluminous medical records suggesting the boy had repeated seizures and other conditions – and that any treatments he received were suggested by his doctors.
Among the witnesses called by the prosecution Wednesday was Dr. Lauren Finney, who cared for Abcug’s son after the family moved to the Denver area in 2017. That move came on the advice of the boy’s doctor in Florida, who suggested that specialists at Children’s Hospital Colorado might be able to get to the bottom of the youngster’s medical conditions.
Finney testified that she had not witnessed any seizures while treating the boy.
“I did not see any of those complaints in the office, but I wouldn’t necessarily have expected to,” Finney testified. “I have other patients who have seizure disorders and they don’t seize in my office.”
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Bryan Hall, Finney acknowledged times when symptoms reported by Abcug were observed by her or her colleagues – eye swelling in one case, a contusion on his cheek after a fall in another, and knee pain in a third instance.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Dawson also questioned the boy’s foster mother, who described him as active and healthy.
“He performs taekwondo a couple times a week,” she said. “He’s up to a blue belt now. He’s involved in downhill ski lessons all winter long. He rides mountain bikes with my family. He’s going on hikes, extensive hikes. He plays tetherball.”
But it was the testimony of Abcug’s two older children that provided a window into the events leading up to the filing of criminal charges in 2019.
Abcug’s older son testified that he’d had conversations with his mother about a man who “was flying in to stay with them for a form of protection.” He said he told his mother he and his sister had concerns “about how weird and scary that situation can be about someone we don’t know living in the house under the guise of protection.”
And Abcug’s daughter described the way her mother changed after her younger son was placed with a foster family. The girl testified that Abcug bought a gun, railed against the government, and began talking with people on the phone, discussing QAnon and efforts to get her son back.
“She started talking to other people about this,” Abcug’s daughter testified. “She referred to it as the ‘raid,’ which I believed just kind of what I’ve heard was a way to illegally get [the boy] back out of the foster care system from his parents.”
But under cross examination, she also testified that her mother never told her she was a member of QAnon, that she did not believe her mother knew where her son was living, and that she did not believe her mother was actually going to help carry out a raid.
“I do not believe she was going to go, no,” Abcug’s daughter testified under cross-examination by Ohanian.
A man did live in Abcug’s home for a time, her two children testified, but neither he nor anyone else besides Abcug has been charged in the alleged kidnapping plot.
Ohanian indicated the defense will call at least one witness Thursday, an occupational therapist who treated Abcug’s young son and did not share the same concerns that led a physical therapist to call the Douglas County Department of Human Services and report fears that the boy was a victim of abuse or neglect.
The case could go to the jury as soon as Thursday.
Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: email@example.com or 303-871-1862.
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